Digital marketing is the hottest career trend right now. I have friends who are taking up digital marketing courses worth tens of thousands of rupees. If you’re someone who is considering learning digital marketing, then let me warn you! Don’t fall into the trap of these costly courses. There are better ways to learn digital marketing all by yourself and that too in a much cheaper and effective way.

Taking up expensive courses isn’t gonna make you a digital marketing expert in 3 months. In my opinion, most of the courses are just a waste of money. Some digital marketing experts are charging up to 10 lakhs to help you learn digital marketing! That’s crazy! 

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I recently came across a testimonial from the course’s website. To get an idea about the course, I contacted and asked the guy for his honest review. He told me that the course was absolutely useless and that there’s 10 times better information available for free than what they teach you in the class.

Some of you might know, even I am a digital marketing enthusiast. Yes, I have taken some paid online courses on digital marketing, but most of what I have learnt does not come from those courses. In fact, those courses have just served as a revision to what I learnt everything by myself.

What you can instead do is take the unconventional path. These are the ways that no one will tell you about, and which are (in my opinion) the best and most effective ways to learn digital marketing. 

1. Watch summit and conference videos on Youtube

Watching videos by keynote speakers on youtube is a great way to learn what’s working in the world of digital marketing right now. Those people are experts in the industry, and information coming from them is the most up-to-date information.

For example, A.I. is probably the most researched topic these days. If you want to learn more about how A.I. is going to affect digital marketing, you can search YouTube for “artificial intelligence in digital marketing conference”. You can watch videos like Machine Learning in Marketing | C3 Conference 2017 | Dharmesh Shah or How Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning Are Transforming Modern Marketing - Almitra Karnick. You will learn so much in those 1-2 hours of keynote presentation than any other “guru” can teach you about that topic. 

Do check LIVE from INBOUND 2018 and Traffic and Conversion Summit by Ryan Deiss for amazing talks from influencers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Daymond John.

2. Networking at events and learning from individuals

I have met a few digital marketing experts, and I can tell you that they don’t mind sharing the things that are working on right now. That means you will get valuable insights into the things that work for them and are getting results.

In fact, it’s a great way to start a conversation at a networking event. Be interested in them rather than just talking about yourself. People love to talk about themselves, and they enjoy talking about things that they are working on right now. Go and connect with people working as marketers in companies and start-ups. They would be happy to help you out. If possible, go and offer them lunch.

Events are another great way to meet like-minded people. Personally speaking, I am not great at networking and haven’t attended any events as such. But I am learning the art of networking and building relationships with people. On June 23, 2019, I am visiting Hyderabad to attend High Traffic Summit, and in September, I have planned to travel to Gurugram to attend Indian Affiliate Summit. I will be sharing my experience about those meetups, so please subscribe to get updates 🙂

(On a side note, please read books like How to Win Friends And Influence People and Never Eat Alone to help you improve your networking skills. I’ve read them and trust me you’ll learn a lot of principles when it comes to networking)

3. Listen to podcasts

The best part about podcasts is that you can learn while you’re travelling or during your workout. Instead of listening to the same songs over and over daily, I listen to podcasts during my workout. Marketers like Seth Godin will help you learn marketing by keeping you hooked with his excellent storytelling skills.

Podcasts are a great way to stay in touch with trends in digital marketing. There are thousands of digital marketers who have their own podcasts, and it’s one of the best ways to learn from the top influencers in the field of internet marketing.

Some of my favourite podcasts that I listen daily-

4. Practice on your own blog

From all of the mentioned techniques to learn marketing, none of them is useful unless you try them out by yourself. This is perhaps the best way to learn digital marketing.

Heard about a new plug-in that helps you boost rankings? Try that out.

Read about a technique to increase conversions? Implement that on your site.

Learnt a new trick to earn money? Test it by yourself.

Whatever you learn, make sure to try and test that out on your own blog or business. That’s why I highly recommend starting your own blog so that you can instantly try and test things out by yourself as soon as you learn about them.

As it’s said, “Knowledge is power, if applied”. This is the best way to learn digital marketing. If you only follow this advice, I promise you won’t need any certificate to start your career in digital marketing.

5. Attend or create masterminds

Having access to masterminds is like 100 creative minds working together. Today, there are thousands of groups and forums online in which people are helping each other learn. They share their problems, solutions, learnings, tips & tricks etc. Look for such forums and actively participate and interact with people in those groups.

Also, there are many offline meetups where like-minded people come and discuss their learnings. They can be either free or paid. If you’re short on budget, join a free one. But if you want quality people, go for paid ones. You can even look out for potential partnerships and build relationships at such masterminds. 

Search for meetups at sites like meetups.com. If there are no meetups in your area, take this as an opportunity and start one. Start with people whom you know, and your mastermind will grow over time.

6. Read marketing books

If you’re just starting out and can’t afford expensive mentors, books are the best way to start. Experts have studied and put down their years of experience in these books. Books provide significant insights into the minds of successful people. For me, having a book is like having direct access to the author.

There are many thought leaders in the field of digital marketing who have some great books. I have assembled a list of recommended books for digital marketers. If you’re interested, check them out here

If you wish to follow me on Goodreads, here’s the link

7. Start a YouTube channel

Just like how starting your blog helps you learn much better, same applies to starting a youtube channel.

2 things happen when you start sharing your knowledge on YouTube. First, you are seen as an authority on whatever niche you decide to publish content. That means people trust you more and see you as an expert in your niche. 

Secondly, you will gain better clarity by sharing what you know. When you want to explain something, you need to go back to the basics. This process leads to gaining clarity in your head, and you will be able to organise your thoughts in your mind better.

Starting a YouTube channel is very easy these days. You don’t need an expensive camera or a studio. All you need is a smartphone and valuable content that is worth sharing. Come up with a topic and start speaking as if you were talking to a friend. Eventually, you will get good at it. This is one of the most unconventional ways to learn digital marketing. 

8. Work for clients for free

More and more people are searching on the internet for solutions to their problems. And thousands of businesses have no idea that they are missing a huge chunk of business by not creating their presence online.

What you can do is visit local stores in your neighbourhood and ask if you could help them in any way. If you’re just starting out, work for them for free. Learn the basics of website design and digital marketing and help those businesses establish their online presence.

Help them optimise their Google Business, SEO, Instagram pages, Facebook pages, etc. There’s a huge opportunity to work with local businesses, and most of them don’t have any idea about online marketing.

You can quickly learn some essential skills and start working for free. Eventually, after gaining some experience, you can charge money and probably start your own marketing agency.

This is the approach I took while learning digital marketing. You are learning and doing simultaneously, which is great because it gives you practical hands-on experience. 

9. Understand human psychology

All that you learn in digital marketing is useless unless you understand human psychology. It is the fundamental behind any marketing campaign.

Understanding who your customer/reader is very important. You need to know their pain points, what problems they’re facing, what emotions they’re feeling, etc. If you understand all these, you can easily connect with them and maybe persuade them to buy what you have to offer.

All the digital marketing gurus will teach how about PPC, CPC, CPM, etc. But all those metrics are useless if you can’t influence the person who’s engaging with your content. That’s why learning copywriting is very important. 

To start with, read Influence and Presuasion by Robert Cialdini. Also follow Authors like Dan Kennedy, Gary Halbert and David Ogilvy who are considered Gods of copywriting. 

Conclusion

Everything you need to learn is available for free on the internet. Don’t waste your money on expensive courses. I hope you found these unconventional tactics that I’ve shared with you today helpful. 

The best way to learn is to start a blog. All you need is a domain and a hosting. I will make a detailed guide in the future about how to start a blog.

Which tactic did you found the most interesting? Or do you have anything else that I might have missed? Let’s discuss in comments below 🙂

Aashish Karia

I am a Digital Marketing enthusiast passionate about learning and sharing everything I've learned so far. During my free time, you will probably find me reading a non-fiction book or playing football. I'm a fitness freak, and I love working out and going on treks occasionally.

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